Life’s priorities are found in the four walls of a stable.

Life is fast-paced these days. Social media coaxes us into posting every aspect of our lives, from what we had for breakfast to the fall we videoed from last night’s lesson. Our days slip by with school, sports, homework, work, and whatever else we can cram into a 24-hour period. Not only are we busy with the things that we schedule, but we’re busy looking at the things we want. If only you could have that new pair of Parlantis, you’d look so much better. If only you could have that horse you tried but was out of your budget, you’d probably have won Zone Finals. Probably. Maybe.

But maybe not.

Life catches you like a riptide. You get lost in the wrong things and suddenly you’re swept out a mile in a direction you didn’t want to go. It happens to all of us, but equestrians have the best reality check of them all. We’ve got a reminder that the important things in life are far more simple than wanting a new horse or a better pair of show boots. The best things in life aren’t the brand of your show coat, the make of your saddle, or the cost of the training program you’re in.

The next time you head to the barn, take a deep breath when you get out of the car. The air will be crisp, accented with pine from all of the trees surrounding the property. You might even catch a hint of hay in the breeze. Clean air, far from pollution and city smog. Not everybody has access to that. When you walk through the barn doors, you’re greeted with friendly nickers and familiar faces. It’s warm, a nice change from the settling winter, so you breathe a sigh of relief. You’ve walked into a sanctuary where the priorities in life are clear.

There are four walls that protect the inside of a barn from the elements. There is safety between those four walls, a place to rest for the night with a roof overhead. Twice a day, every day, there is a meal where every horse eats their fill. Their buckets are brimming with fresh, clean water. There is a place and time for exercise to stay healthy, sometimes with friends in a field and sometimes with a rider. Love is promoted through mutual understanding, and conflicts are resolved with sincerity. Discipline occurs when it is necessary to encourage boundaries and leadership, helping to foster trust. And there are loved ones all around.

The brand of your blanket does not matter. It matters only that you wrap it around your horse when it gets cold. An automatic water-filler isn’t necessary for every horse, a simple bucket will do. No one cares whether or not you color your hair on time, because appearance means nothing if you love unconditionally – a trait our horses encourage in us. Hard work, determination, and sincerity matter far more than a new pair of boots and will walk you further in life.

Life’s priorities are clear in the barn. Our horses help keep us humble, honest, and kind. They do not hesitate to remind us when these traits are lost in the tide. There is peace, calm, and reassurance that comes from remembering that the finer things in life are simple, and that the answer to what is important will always exist behind those stable doors.